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China Drafts New Film Industry Law

China has moved forward with a new film industry law intended to boost the sector and help Chinese companies compete internationally.

Chinese state media reported that a draft of the new law was debated Friday by the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress.

“Film legislation can stimulate the industry, regulate irregularities and safeguard China’s ‘cultural security’,” said Cao Fuchao, head of China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television at the session.

The new law, which has been mooted for many years, is likely to cover issue including censorship, financial incentives and support for specific sections of the industry. The draft remains at an early stage and may subject to substantial change.

Financial incentives may be offered for script writing, filming, distribution, screening, and overseas promotion of domestic films.

As part of the overseas cultural offensive, Chinese companies may also be given other incentives such as tax breaks for investing abroad and building theaters.

Domestic Chinese censorship remains a major issue and has often been blamed for limiting the film industry. The new law is expected to “ensure the freedom to produce films.” And the draft also refers to clarifying censorship rules by creating “concrete film examination standards” that are perfected and open to the public.

In practice too instead of a screenplay having to be fully approved and signed off before shooting, censors may soon only require to provide a treatment before beginning to shoot. The finished film will still need to clear censorship and be given a certificate before getting a theatrical release. There was also discussion that the approval process would be “subject to the opinions of experts.”

The proposed legal changes come ahead of five days of China-focused events in Los Angeles this week. These include the Chinese American Film Festival; the MPA’s 5th China International Co-Production Film Screenings; the Asia Society’s annual Film Summit; and the American Film Market’s half day China seminars on Friday (Nov. 6).

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